While the total number of people who ski or ride is important, perhaps more significant in the “Biggest Ski State” discussion is the number of days per season those people actually hit the slopes. Obviously, a state with a small but passionate population can carry more than its fair share if its residents ski a lot of days. So which state can claim the most passionate (frequent) skiers and snowboarders?
It probably makes sense that the more ski areas a state has, and the closer the population lives to those ski areas, the higher the frequency. And so it is that Vermont has the highest average days per skier/snowboarder, with nearly 13 days per person per season, well ahead of Montana and Colorado, which each average over 10 days per person per season. New Hampshire, Idaho and Maine resident skiers and snowboarders also participate an above-average number of days, at 9 to 11 days per person. In the 7 to 9 days per person range are Alaska, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Nevada, and New Mexico. On the other hand, the state with the most skiers and snowboarders, California, only averages a bit less than 6 days per person, similar to New York and Massachusetts (two other states with a large number of skiers and snowboarders).
Relative to its total population, which state produces the most visits?
Another way to look at these numbers is to look at the total visits (skiers times days per season) generated by a state’s ski/snowboard population relative to its total population (including people who don’t ski/snowboard). This ratio, which we call skier visit density, levels the playing field by taking total population into account, and provides a true look on an overall basis of which state really skis the most.
And the winner is: Vermont, with total ski days generated by its residents at well over 100 percent of its total population. Even though Vermont has a small number of skiers and riders, it also has a small population overall; in addition, those skiers and riders participate the most per person per season, resulting in the highest skier visit density. Number two is Colorado, with just over 100 percent, followed by New Hampshire, Idaho, Alaska, Maine, and Montana. Some states with large populations of skiers, like California, Texas, New York, and Florida, also have large total populations, which makes their skier visit density lower by comparison.
So depending on how you look at the numbers, you can get a different answer to the question of which state can claim the title of “Biggest Ski State.” Number of skiers/snowboarder, average days per person, and total population are all important factors to consider. California has the most people who ski and/or snowboard, but Vermont has the most passionate customer base, both objectively (days per skier) and relative to its total population. How does your state stack up? Bragging rights aside, this information just might settle your next chairlift debate.